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Alcohol. 2000 May;21(1):73-85.

Effects of 5-HT(3) receptor antagonists on daily alcohol intake under acquisition, maintenance, and relapse conditions in alcohol-preferring (P) rats.

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Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatric Research, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis 46202-4887, USA.


Previous research indicated that 5-HT(3) antagonists can reduce ethanol drinking in rats, but drinking conditions and other environmental manipulations influenced the efficacy of these antagonists. The current experiments were conducted to examine the effects of the 5-HT(3) antagonists MDL 72222 (MDL) or ICS 205-930 (ICS) on 24-h ethanol (10% v/v) consumption during acquisition, maintenance, and following a period of deprivation in selectively bred high alcohol-preferring (P) male rats. In an analysis of the acquisition of ethanol consumption, daily injections of MDL (1 mg/kg; s.c.) or ICS (1 or 5 mg/kg) were administered to separate groups of P rats during the initial 10 days of ethanol exposure. To examine the maintenance of ethanol drinking, these same groups of rats were allowed access to ethanol for 21 days with no pharmacological manipulations, and were then administered either saline or the 5-HT(3) antagonist. To examine the effects of a 5-HT(3) antagonist on relapse of ethanol drinking, another group of P rats was allowed access to ethanol for 6 weeks and was then deprived of ethanol for 3 weeks. Prior to ethanol reinstatement, rats were treated chronically (seven daily injections) or acutely with MDL (1 mg/kg), saline, or received no injections. MDL (1 mg/kg) and ICS (1 or 5 mg/kg) reduced ethanol intake during acquisition (60-80%) and during maintenance drinking (35-70%) in P rats pretreated with saline during acquisition. However, in rats pretreated with MDL or ICS during acquisition, there was a significant reduction in the effectiveness of either MDL or ICS to reduce ongoing ethanol drinking. Neither acute nor chronic treatment with 1 mg/kg MDL altered the 80% increase in ethanol consumption observed on the first day of reinstatement following a 3-week deprivation period. However, in a follow-up study, acute treatment with MDL (3 mg/kg) or ICS (5 mg/kg) did prevent the 80% increase in ethanol consumption observed on the first day of reinstatement. Overall, the results suggest that 5-HT(3) receptors are involved in the acquisition and maintenance of 24-h ethanol drinking, and that neuroadaptations may occur as a result of chronic treatment with 5-HT(3) antagonists, or during prolonged alcohol deprivation, which alter the involvement of these receptors in regulating alcohol drinking in the P rat.

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